In 1921, the poet W.B. Yeats, responding to the devastation of World War I, penned the poem “The Second Coming,” in which he wrote that “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.”
Oh, Curt Schilling, he could’ve been writing about you.
Earlier this week, Schilling—the man immortalized in Red Sox lore for his Bloody Sock in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, an almost herculean feat of courage and determination—again took to social media in an act that feels like self-sabotage of his career beyond baseball.
While Schilling has found himself in hot water in the past for using Twitter, Facebook and his blog, 38 Pitches, to pontificate his far-right politics, this week he chose to address the controversial North Carolina law barring transgenders from using the public bathrooms for the gender in which they identify themselves.
Schilling first shared a picture of a garish looking transgender woman with her breasts exposed and a gnarly blond wig, with the caption: “Let him in! To the restroom with your daughter or else you’re narrow minded, judgmental, unloving racist bigot who needs to die!!!”
This, in and of itself, is somewhat innocuous in the fact that it’s a clear joke. It’s certainly insensitive, but it’s still a joke.
Schilling, who would benefit from some kind of social media prison, was not finished, however. He then felt the need to editorialize, writing on Facebook: “A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis, women’s not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic.”
As a result, Schilling was fired from his job as a baseball analyst for ESPN, and his legacy as a Red Sox hero is being overshadowed by a string of bombastic commentary on social media. While the man literally bled for the team—his blood-soaked sock remaining an indelible image for fans—and he played an instrumental role in bringing the Red Sox first World Series title in 86 years, Curt Schilling, the man, has become a farce.
The firing of Schilling is unfortunate because he was a good analyst. He knows the game, and he’s incisive when deconstructing pitchers and pitching, in particular. I learn from Schilling’s analysis of games. But for some reason, Schilling can’t seem to keep his mouth shut on social media, seeing himself as a crusader for conservative white men feeling marginalized in our current political climate.
This is far from the first time Schilling’s hubris has found him in hot water. Schilling was previously called out for comparing Muslim terrorists to Nazis, his stubborn stance against evolution, or saying that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton should “be buried under a jail somewhere.”
While certainly the First Amendment allows Schilling to speak his mind, he doesn’t seem to grasp the fact that his opinions are polarizing and offensive to many. ESPN is a for-profit company so they have every right to fire someone who has become so acerbic they damage the reputation of company (yes, I realize that ESPN is not exactly a stalwart of professional ethics).
It’s not even Schilling’s politics, per se. However, what Schilling seems to miss is the fact that his comments offend other people, and when you’re given a a highly public post, like an analyst for games that are nationally broadcast, your ideologies and beliefs are reflections of the people who employ you. Regardless of where you work, it’s always good form to comport with some sense of compassion and empathy for others, especially those who are not like you.
In the same poem, Yeats writes that “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” Again, for Schilling, this seems to be the case. It pains me to see his legacy as a Red Sox legend falling apart over an inability to control his impulses on social media.